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Obama’s New Chief of Staff a Top Banker With Strong Chamber Ties

In the fight over financial reform, Bill Daley's ties to the Chamber of Commerce put him at odds with the reforms championed by the Obama administration. Now, he's been picked as chief of staff.

Proponents of financial deregulation may have a strong ally within the White House, now that President Obama has named Bill Daley his new chief of staff.

The prospect of Daley taking the key White House position had earned praise from Wall Street insiders who cited his ability to “bring people together” and “success in getting things done,” according to Fortune.

As the brother of Chicago’s outgoing mayor Richard Daley, a former Commerce Secretary and a current JPMorgan Chase executive, Daley shared certain commonalities with his predecessor: Rahm Emanuel also came to the White House by way of a Chicago connection, worked under Bill Clinton, and—as a former investment banker—brought his own ties to Wall Street.

In addition to those things, Daley has strong ties to the Chamber of Commerce, which opposed the financial reform bill that was a cornerstone of the administration’s agenda last year. From Kevin Connor, co-director the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit research organization:

From 2005 to 2007, he co-chaired a Chamber of Commerce committee on financial (de)regulation. The “Commission on the Regulation of Capital Markets in the 21st Century” eventually became the Chamber’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, which played a prominent role in attacking derivatives regulation and consumer protections last year. The Hill called the group one of the “loudest voices on financial legislation”—and they weren’t exactly singing the praises of reform efforts.

Daley also signed on to a March 2009 Chamber manifesto on “Restoring Confidence in US Capital Markets,” the Chamber’s opening PR move in the financial reform debate.

The new chief of staff has publicly opposed the concept of an independent consumer financial protection agency—a key part of Dodd-Frank. In 2009, he criticized a pro-business Illinois Democrat for her position on financial reform, telling the Chicago Tribune that “she did not have a knee-jerk aversion to the concept of a federal consumer protection agency, in spite of all our brilliant arguments.”

News of Daley's selection broke this morning. The president had told the New York Times yesterday that the announcement would come in “due course,” after White House lawyers finished vetting the candidate.

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